THE PROS & CONS
- What's Best: A compact luxury crossover with the styling and panache you expect from BMW.
- What’s Worst: The X2 joins a confusing proliferation of BMW SUV/CUVs.
- What’s Interesting: Canadians lead the world when it comes to ordering the highest level of BMW trims and options.
INDIAN WELLS, CA: Of the several new vehicles BMW Group will launch in Canada this year perhaps the most significant is the 2018 X2 xDrive28i compact crossover.
It’s the sixth in BMW’s roster of seven SUV/CUVs that will be completed when the full-sized X7 arrives.
What makes the X2 so crucial is it comes along at the cusp of the tip over in Canada to more upscale, luxury-oriented small crossovers.
In fact, I was surprised to learn the Canadians lead the world (even more so than the Americans and Chinese) when it comes to upfitting their BMWs with options and extras.
The X2 is aimed directly at this Canadian demographic —starting with things as simple as the wheels.
When BMW benchmarks a new vehicle against a direct competitor, a design criterion is to have the biggest wheels in the segment.
The X2 in Canada will have a choice of two, 19-inch alloy wheels, but there is also a 20-inch double-spoke alloy with M Sport X Package, which is expected to be a hot item.
A clever styling touch is the application of a large BMW badge in the middle of the panel between the rear door and the liftgate.
In an era when all luxury compact crossovers are starting to look alike because form follows function in any utility vehicle, that blue-and-white roundel tells the world this is a BMW.
But the X2 really comes into its own in styling and appointments.
Where the X1 is boxier, the X2 looks sleeker – more urban if you will, with those big wheels and bobbed rear tailgate making it seem more fleet of foot.
It is, however, on the inside where the driver and front seat passenger are greeted with a warming upper grey and lower earth tone beige instrument panel. If you really want to jazz it up, there is the optional ($950) Magma Red Dakota leather perforated seating or the Oyster leather perforated seats in the X2 with the M Sport x Package I drove.
Mechanically, the X2 shares much in common with the X1 including the same platform (BMW likes to call it the architecture), engine, eight-speed transmission and BMW all-wheel-drive.
The engine is BMW’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre “TwinPower” direct injection four-cylinder with a single turbo, not twin turbos as the name might imply.
Like the X1, it produces 228 hp and 258 lb/ft of torque requiring premium fuel for a return of 11.0/7.0/9.5L/100 km city/highway/combined.
Cargo is an adequate 470 litres behind the second row seats and 1,355 litres behind the front row. Like the X1, the payload is 408 kg which is almost 900 lb.
The X2 as tested here was one of some 14 new products made available to a select number of North American autowriters at BMW “Test Fest” held outside Indian Wells, CA, at the privately-owned Thermal Club, a 5.1, three track race facility where BMW holds its western performance driving school.
I was told the reason for having the school is when a new BMW owner asks why his/her car is so expensive; it’s because the school demonstrates what the vehicle is capable of doing.
When we got to the driving centre, I ran (I thought I was too old to run) to grab the X2.
I set out on the challenging Box Canyon Road to Desert Centre. It’s a round trip of about an hour across the California desert floor, with ancient sea bed cliffs on all sides coupled by an azure blue sky above dotted with low-flying puffy white clouds.
With that 258 lb/ft of torque the X2 is pretty quick, with a 0-100 km/h time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 210 km/h.
But the most satisfying part of the drive was the way it hung in on some of the bends, which came up pretty fast and would have caught me out in anything lesser.
I should have checked the specs (I had a lot of cars to drive in not a lot of hours), but I’m fairly sure the X2 I was driving had the optional Dynamic Damper Control because it stayed flat and tracked true when I powered through an unexpected off-camber bend.
At one point, a switchback that dropped to about 30 mph from 55 mph without a warning sign presented a serious problem, but the X2’s big brakes and stability/traction control stepped in to avert a nasty moment.
I was moving fast on this drive, but at no time did I ever feel I was approaching the limits of what the X2 can do – limits 99 per cent of us will never experience.
But it’s a BMW and that kind of prowess comes with the brand.
2018 BMW X2 xDrive28i
BODY STYLE: Compact, five-door luxury crossover.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre, direct injection, single turbo, inline four-cylinder (228 hp, 258 lb/ft of torque) mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) 11.0/7.0/9.5L/100 km city/highway/combined
CARGO: 1,355 behind front seats; 470 litres behind second row seats
PAYLOAD: 408 kg
TOW RATING: Not recommended
WEB SITE: BMW.ca
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